Authorities continue search for convicted serial rapist

Monday, January 19, 2004

The Associated Press

FARMINGTON, Mo. -- Using search dogs, emergency squads from the Department of Corrections and area law enforcement officers, authorities continued the search Sunday for a convicted rapist missing from the Farmington Correctional Center.

Nicholas Stillman, 41, was last seen about 1 p.m. Friday and could not be located during an inmate count later that afternoon. Stillman was serving a five-year sentence for second-degree statutory rape from a St. Louis-area crime. He had been at the Farmington center since November.

The center's associate superintendent, Pat Smith, said the search was continuing both inside and outside the 110-acre, medium-security complex. No evidence had been found that Stillman was still inside, and dogs had picked up a scent outside, she said.

She said authorities from Farmington, about 70 miles south of St. Louis, have aided in the search, as have others from St. Francois and Madison counties.

"We have not had any actual sightings," she said. She asked the public to contact authorities if Stillman is spotted. "In general, I would consider any fleeing felon being actively pursued to be a danger," she said.

Stillman is described as a 5-foot-4 inch, 170-pound, balding white man with brown eyes. He has a teardrop-shaped tattoo under his eye. He was last seen in blue sweat pants and a brown coat.

A serial rapist, Thomas Ingrassia, escaped from the Farmington complex in 2001. He was captured in October in Florida, where he had remarried and taken an alias.

Ingrassia, unlike Stillman, was being held at the mental health center inside the Farmington complex where Missouri confines sexually violent predators.

Under the civil commitment programs in Missouri and 15 other states, sex offenders who complete their prison sentences can be held indefinitely in a mental hospital if they are deemed likely to commit new crimes.

Smith said Farmington will reassess its security.

"Our security is a concern every day, and public safety is a concern every day," she noted.

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